A new 9m high lantern-inspired spiral entrance for the Redwoods Treewalk has been officially opened.
Created by New Zealand design and sustainability champion David Trubridge and built locally using unique construction methods, the new entry allows visitors to wind their way up from the forest floor into the tree canopy.
Redwood Treewalk co-founder and director Bruce Thomasen said as a design-led eco-tourism experience, the new entrance both complemented and contrasted the beauty of the natural environment and provided a stunning focal point for the day and night experience.
"Designed to also be a large lantern at night, illuminated by infinite colour spotlighting, the new entrance highlights the unique relationship between form and function, design and innovation, and the natural elements of the Treewalk.
"The outer ring is suspended from the trees using a unique sling system in a sustainable way, with the inner platform supported by four wooden poles. Built and engineered locally, we've used a mixture of steel and timber, predominantly macrocarpa."
At the informal opening ceremony Thomasen said it had been a two and a half year journey to get to this point.
"We are constantly looking at ways to build on what we have."
He said the development was another vote of confidence in Rotorua's tourism industry and aligned with Tourism Industry Aotearoa's Tourism 2025 framework, targeting value through visitor experiences.
Trubridge described the design as an intermediary between the ground and the "ethereal" experience of being suspended way up in the forest.
"As you rise slowly up the ramp you have time to take in the change, you're also guided by the lantern form, which opens upwards and outwards into space and silence.
"When reaching the top, the form releases you out on to your adventure. In the end, it welcomes you back, into its curving earthbound embrace."
Trubridge also recently completed sculptural work for the Rotorua Library and said he has a few more projects on the go in Rotorua.
"Rotorua has a strong identity about itself, which is great to work with, I love that about Rotorua."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said as a city Rotorua needs innovators.
"It's wonderful to see this forest become a place where we are now seeing innovation.
"The other thing I love about it is the relationship Rotorua is getting with David."